Though we all recognize stretch marks when we see them, few of us know how to prevent stretch marks from developing in the first place. Stretch marks, as the name implies, are marks that occur on the skin due to rapid growth or weight gain that stretches the skin beyond its point of elasticity. Stretch marks are composed of scar tissue from the tearing of the dermis beneath the skin’s outer layer. Though most people associate stretch marks with pregnancy, stretch marks are also common in adolescents due to the rapid growth of puberty, in athletes and bodybuilders due to rapid muscle growth, and in overweight men and women. Even relatively slender men and women can be prone to stretch marks if the skin is not elastic enough to accommodate minor fluctuations in weight.
Those of us with visible stretch marks often try a variety of methods to remove them or improve their unsightly appearance. Methods used to try to remove stretch marks include a broad range of treatments from innocuous over-the counter preparations to expensive and possibly painful surgical or chemical dermabrasion. These methods have varying degrees of success, but the necessity of treating stretch marks can be avoided if you take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Moisturize Skin From the Inside
For healthy adults, recommended water consumption is eight to ten 8 ounce glasses per day. Most of us fall far short of this amount. Though important for general health, water also keeps skin supple and hydrated, and well hydrated skin is more likely to retain its elasticity and resist developing stretch marks.
Moisturize Skin From the Outside
Though lotions, ointments and creams may have varying degrees of success in treating stretch marks, they can be valuable in preventing them. During times of rapid growth or weight gain, particularly during pregnancy, topical moisturizers can be applied to increase the elasticity of the skin. External moisturizers work best to prevent stretch marks when used in conjunction with adequate water intake and good nutrition.
Provide Your Skin with the Nutrients it Needs
The same nutrients that support healthy cell function and boost the immune system can help keep your skin healthy. Diets rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins A and C, and zinc can help you prevent stretch marks by increasing the skin’s ability to repair itself before stretching to its breaking point. Walnuts and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are good sources of essential fatty acids, and colorful fruits and vegetables supply plentiful amounts of vitamins A and C. Good sources of zinc include protein foods like meats, legumes, dairy, and nuts.
It is far easier to prevent stretch marks from occurring in the first place than it is to remove stretch marks once they appear. By following these simple and healthy recommendations, you can reduce your chances of developing unsightly stretch marks. As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.